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poetry abounded in metaphors, often extravagant, but sometimes beautiful. The following description of winter, will serve as a specimen;
“This season, as a king, with the cold winds for his retinue, advances from the Himalayu to conquer the earth~he destroys the pride of the most powerful: the lord of day, filled with fear, takes refuge in the south-east; every morning the shivering wretch, raising his head, seeks him in vain; day, mourning the loss of his lord, constantly wastes away; the water-lily, having lost her beloved, ashamed, hides her head beneath the waters; fire, having lost his energy, retires to the cottage of the poor, covering himself with rags, so that even the starving wretch sets him at defiance.
“The coldness of the water excites the same fears in the mind, as the presence of a serpent; a fire without smoke awakens the same desires as the breast of a female on the mind of the unchaste; the rays of the sun cheer the heart like the birth of a son; the impression of the cold wind on the body, resembles unkind words from the lips of a friend."*
The Persians were also a distinguished people in the early age of the world. Among them a system of religion and philosophy was introduced, differing in many respects, from that of surrounding nations. By some this system is supposed to have been introduced by a philosopher named Zoroaster, who is often confounded with the Chaldean of the same name; and by others it is thought, that their religious opinions and observances, having become corrupted, were only revived and restored by him to their original state. The time when this philosopher lived, is uncertain; and while some suppose him to have been the patriarch Abraham, others maintain that he lived and commenced the work of reformation in the reign of Darius Hystaspes, who filled the Persian throne about the year 485 before Christ. Zoroaster is said to have written many works on religion and philosophy; one of which, the Zend or Zendatesta, is still extant, and explains the order and forms of the rites and ceremonies, and the principles of religion and morality which he taught. His followers regarded this work with the same veneration as Christians do the Bible, looking upon it as an emanation of divine wisdom.
* For further information on the subject of Hindoo literature, the reader is referred to Sir William Jones' Works, Ward's History of Hindoos and the Abbe Dubois' India.
In this book are many laws which appear to have been taken from the laws of Moses, and the account of the creation, as given therein, bears a strong affinity to that of Moses, Zoroasterdeclaring that the world was created in six periods, making together three hundred and sixty-five days.
Before the time of Zoroaster, there existed in Persia a body of men, known by the name of Magi, who were the priests of the people and the philosophers of the country. The religion which they taught, consisted of the worship of the sun, under the name of Mithra, and of Oromasdes, the author of all good, and Arimanius, the author of all evil; but whether they considered the latter as equal or inferior to Mithra, is uncertain. Zoroaster introduced many alterations into the mode of worship, and into their religious system, and amongst others taught that Mithra was a divinity who acted as a moderator between Oromasdes and Arimanius, and was hence called the Mediator. He believed that these two divinities, or the causes of good and evil, were perpetually at variance, but that, through the intervention of the mediator, the contest would eventually terminate in favor of the good principle. There still exists in Persia, a sect called Guebres, or fire worshippers, who still conform to the principles of Zoroaster.*
Literature of the Greeks. Greek Poets : Orpheus, Linus, Musæus.
Ancient bards : Homer, Hesiod, Archilochus, Tyrtæus, Alcæus, Sappho. Dramatic poetry: Thespis, Pratinas.
NotWITHSTANDING the laborious researches and investigations of historians and philosophers, darkness and obscurity still rest upon the early history of Greece; and in endeavoring to trace even its outlines, we become bewildered and entangled in the mazes of tradition, or lost in the fabulous and legendary history of the times. Historians, however, are agreed in this,
* Enfield's Hist. of Phil. vol.1; Cal. Dict. art. Zoroaster.
that the original inhabitants led a savage and wandering life, after the manner of the aboriginal natives of the American continent, and like them, were governed by no regular system of laws, but such only as mutual safety and the peculiar circumstances of the times may have dictated. Instead of commodious dwellings, furnished with the necessary conveniences for domestic comfort, they sheltered themselves in caves or rudely constructed huts; instead of indulging a fastidious appetite in the luxuries of the table, they were content with the precarious support they derived from fishing and hunting. Such was the condition of Greece in its primitive state; yet, did this people, so uncivilized and barbarous in their original manner of living, become the teachers of other nations, in philosophy, poetry, oratory, architecture, sculpture and painting, which rose amongst them to such a state of perfection, that “modern degeneracy," although it has imitated, has not been able, in many essential particulars, to reach them.
In consequence of thcir communication and intercourse with the nations of the east, particularly with Egypt, where, as we have seen, literature, science and art, had made some progress, the Grecian nations emerged from a state of barbarism, at an earlier period than any other people of Europe. They de. rived great advantages also, from the Phænician navigators who visited their islands and coasts in the course of their commercial pursuits, and who, by introducing new wants, gradually introduced new and useful arts, which were cultivated and improved by a people, naturally ingenious, who readily perceived the advantages to be derived from them. That species of knowledge, however, conferred upon them by the Phænician navigators and adventurers, and which is most intimately connected with the gubject of the present volume, is alphabetic writing. Cadmus, a Phænician, who is said to have founded the city of Thebes, in Baetia, instructed them in the use of the alphabet, (at that time consisting of but sixteen letters, about 1519 years before Christ, and sixty years after Cecrops founded the celebrated city of Athens. The use of letters, notwithstanding their great importance in the preservation of all useful knowledge, did not be come general until near four hundred years after; the greater part of the people still continuing to practise picture or hieroglyphic writing.
Before the invention of letters, poetry seems to have been the means by which knowledge of almost every kind was communicated; and in savage and uncultivated nations, minstrels, whose poetical effusions were rude and uncouth in their construction, but energetic and vigorous in their mode of expression, obtained an extraordinary degree of favor and influence. The history of the times, the praises of their God, their religious rites and ceremonies, the peculiar doctrines of their philosophy, and even their laws, were embodied in poetic numbers. They thus expressed their joy for victories obtained over their enemies, celebrated the valiant achievements of their heroes, and poured forth their lamentations over their public and private calamities. This species of composition has prevailed in all nations of which we have any knowledge. The prophets of tħe Hebrews, “prophesied with psaltery, tabret and harp before them;" and the most ancient specimen of written poetry now extant, is the song of Moses, offered upon the banks of the Red sea, for the deliverance of the Israelites from their Egyptian bondage, which was composed when Greece, afterwards the most polished nation of antiquity, was inhabited by a people not better, or more civilized, than the American savages. Among the Persians, Arabians and other nations of the east, poetry was the earliest form in which their learning was communicated. Tacitus*
6the Germans abounded with rude strains of verse, the reciters of which, in the language of the country, were called bards.” Before going to battle they sung the war song, which was a recapitulation of their warlike exploits, and invoked the God of War, as the Scandinavians invoked the name of Odin.
The earliest poets of Greece, of whom we have any information, are Orpheus, Linus and Musæus, who, by many, are supposed to have been contemporaries, but whether they really were so, is very uncertain; they lived at least, in periods not very remote from each other.
Orpheus is supposed to have lived about 1244 years before Christ, and taught in verse the “learned lore” he acquired from the Egyptian philosophers; he also introduced music and poetry into the religious ceremonies of Greece, and thereby increased
* Manners of the Germans, ch.3
their solemnity and attractions. Orpheus was distinguished not only as a poet and musician, but as a warrior, having been one of that band of adventurers who engaged in the Argonautic expedition, so celebrated in Grecian annals; the true object of which it has puzzled the brain of the antiquary and historian to. discover. The departure of this expedition, is thus described by Appolonius Rhodius:
“On their allotted posts now rang'd along,
A poetical account of this celebrated expedition is still er tant, said to have been written by Orpheus himself, which is doubted by Aristotle, who even denies the existence of such a person, and attempts to rob him of his honors by attributing the poems known by the name of Orphic, to a philosopher named Cercops, who does not appear to be otherwise distinguished, than by a place in the works of the Stagyrite. Of the skill of Orpheus in music, many wonderful anecdotes are related. Amongst others, he
as the story goes, could call
Francis' trans. of Hor. Art of Poetry.
Orpheus, it is said, instituted the mysteries of Bacchus, in imitation of the Egyptian mysteries of Isis and Osiris. He is also said to have instituted the Eleusynian mysteries, usually attributed to the goddess Ceres. There are still extant some